The Twelfth Annual William J. Murnane Memorial Lecture

"Worlds in Stone: Cosmic Architecture and Decoration of Royal Tombs in New Kingdom Egypt."


Joshua Roberson

Dr. Joshua A. Roberson, is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Memphis. His areas of specialization include Egyptian underworld books, cosmological and mortuary literature, ancient Egyptian language and cryptography, seals and sealing practice, digital epigraphy, and 3D tomb modeling. He teaches ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and language for the Departments of Art and History at Memphis.  

 This event is a free public lecture held on the evening of Thursday, November 30, 2017.

Roberson Tomb Decoration

 Lecture: 7:00 p.m.

Reception:  6:00 p.m.

LocationUniversity Center, Room 350 Fountain View Suite

The lecture and reception are FREE and Open to the public.


Dr. Roberson will be speaking on his current research on the architecture and decoration of royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the Egypt's New Kingdom (c. 1540–1080 BCE). This richly illustrated lecture will examine the ways in which the royal tombs changed over time, under the influence of religious works known as the Books of the Underworld and Sky. Dr. Roberson will demonstrate how the two-dimensional decoration of those books symbolized three-dimensional space, oriented around an idealized set of cardinal directions and enclosed within a symbolic border of earth and sky. This effectively recreated the realm of the afterlife as miniature worlds in stone, personalized for the benefit of the individual kings who commissioned them.

Roberson Tomb DecorationDr. Roberson earned his Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a specialist in Egyptian language and religion. He has worked at numerous archaeological sites in Egypt, including Saqqara, Abydos, the Opet and Ptah precincts of Karnak temple at Luxor, and Elephantine island at Aswan. He has also conducted field research on royal and private tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the el-Asasif necropolis, with support from the American Research Center in Egypt and the United States Department of State. He is the author of more than two dozen articles, book chapters, and scholarly reviews, as well as two major monographs: The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Earth and The Awakening of Osiris and the Transit of the Solar Barques. His current publication projects include a monographic Lexicon of Ancient Egyptian Cryptography and a new volume of Ramesside Inscriptions. 

Click here for a printable pdf of the event poster.

Pay parking is available in the adjacent Zach Curlin Garage on Fogelman Drive for $3/hr.


*Photo credits: Dr. Joshua Roberson